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Josh T. Landow

CD of The Week

Week of 2/13/17

    Allison Crutchfield - Tourist In This Town (Merge)

    Allison Crutchfield told Stereogum “everything that is talked about, exists,” regarding the people, stories, and situations on her first full-length release, Tourist in This Town. The bulk of the lyrics emerged from notes she jotted down while touring across Europe in her twin sister’s project Waxahatchee. She had just split from two long term relationships: her previous band Swearin’ and her ex-boyfriend/band co-founder Kyle Gilbride, who was also along for a stretch of the tour.

    The Philadelphia resident said that she writes songs to help herself feel better about things, so she crafted Tourist in This Town as a way to cathartically capture her feelings and emotions. Every lyric on the album is a poetic and thoughtful verse, extracting imagery that is immediately relatable and an even balance of melancholy and hopefulness. She owns her pain after living with it for so long on “ I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California” when she sings, “I keep confusing love with nostalgia.” On the slow, steady, and minimal song “Sightseeing,” she sings, “I can’t enjoy Paris ‘cause I can’t get away from you.” Whether it is the memory or physical person that she can’t shake, she writes to get it out in the open.

    The album is a bit of a grower as the simplistic and methodic melodies are a departure from her previous bands. Her 2014 EP Lean Into It proved that she has a softer, poppier side, but those songs seem like sketches, hinting to what Crutchfield was capable of. Both records found Crutchfield working side by side with Sam Cook-Parrott of local band Radiator Hospital. The album truly shines with Crutchfield’s ability to tell a story, similar to Jenny Lewis. “Charlie” is a beautiful, soaring recollection that hopes for the Charlie in question to hear its message. You can even hear the grin in her voice as she sings “You bite me ‘cause you like the way I feel in your teeth.”

    At 28, Crutchfield has been making music for nearly half of her life. Yet Tourist in This Town is her most autobiographical project ever. She has the support of a large network of friends living in West Philly. It is with their comfort and help that she has given herself the freedom to be herself and grow on her own. At first, her solo material was a means to release her art without having to go through band negotiations. Now she has taken to her craft as an individual, with her own identity and her own voice needing to get out.

    **Donate $20 or more to Y-Not Radio this week to receive a copy of Tourist In This Town. Click here for details.
    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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